Four Dead In Somalia Car Bomb

‘The blast was huge’, one witness said

 

Four people were killed in a car bombing in Somalia on Saturday that apparently targeted Turkish engineers working on a road near the capital Mogadishu, police and witnesses said.

The attack was claimed by the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, which has stepped up its activities in Somalia and neighbouring Kenya in recent weeks.

The bomb struck near the town of Afgoye about 30 kilometres (20 miles) west of the capital, killing four people and wounding several others including several Turkish nationals, said local police officer Abdirahman Adan.

“The blast was huge, it destroyed a container used by the Turkish engineers who work on the Afgoye road construction,” said witness Muhidin Yusuf.

“There were police who were guarding the Turkish engineers and several other people gathering near the checkpoint where the temporary shelter is located,” said another witness Ahmed Said.

“I saw the dead bodies of several (people) and Turkish workers who were wounded in the blast.”

The Islamist group, which has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government, has carried out a series of attacks in recent weeks including a massive car bombing in Mogadishu on December 28 that killed 81 people.

And on January 5, the jihadists stormed a military base used by US forces in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region, killing three Americans.

Last week, Al-Shabaab warned that Kenya will “never be safe”, threatening tourists and calling for more attacks on US interests.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission fighting against Al-Shabaab, and has seen several brutal retaliation attacks both on its troops in Somalia and civilians in Kenya.

Govt Official, Three Others Killed In Somalia Car Bombing

A destroyed car is seen at the site where a car bomb exploded near the Somali parliament in Mogadishu, Somalia, on January 8, 2020. Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

 

At least four people were killed, including a senior government official, when a car bomb exploded close to a checkpoint near Somalia’s parliament in the capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, police said.

A plume of thick black smoke was seen over the city and witnesses said a number of vehicles were on fire.

Islamist group Al-Shabaab claimed the attack, after a rise in activity in recent days by the Al-Qaeda linked group which has seen it inflict mass casualties in Somalia and attack a US military base in Kenya.

“Explosives were packed in a vehicle which the security forces think was trying to pass through the checkpoint, but because he could not do that, the suicide bomber detonated it,” said police officer Adan Abdullahi.

“Initial reports we have received indicate four people were killed and more than 10 others were wounded in the blast.”

Bile Ismail, the manager of finances at the ministry for women and human rights, was among those killed, relatives and colleagues told AFP.

“We have indeed lost a brother and good friend in the blast this morning,” Abdiqani Omar, the ministry’s former director-general, told AFP.

“He was sitting in the car waiting in line at the checkpoint when the blast occurred and his body (was) badly burned inside the car,” he added.

– ‘There was chaos’ –

Abdirahman Mohamed, who was at a nearby grocery store when the blast occurred, said he saw several corpses.

“I saw the dead bodies of several people, some of them killed by shrapnel inside their vehicles. There was chaos… and ambulances reached the scene soon after the blast,” he said.

Shamso Ali, another witness, described “smoke and chaos along the road, the blast was very heavy”.

“Thanks to God I was a distance away but I saw the smoke and several vehicles caught on fire,” he said.

Mogadishu is regularly hit by attacks by the Shabaab, which has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.

The powerful blast comes after the Shabaab claimed a car bombing in Mogadishu on December 28 that killed 81 people.

That attack, which hit a busy checkpoint in the southwest of the city, was Somalia’s deadliest assault in two years. Scores were wounded.

The Shabaab has also managed to expand its network in the region, especially in Kenya which has suffered several devastating attacks in retaliation for sending troops into Somalia in 2011.

On Sunday, three US citizens died and several aircraft and military vehicles were destroyed when the Shabaab stormed a military base in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region.

Also Sunday, just hours after the attack, police arrested three men who tried to force their way into a British military training camp in the central Kenyan town of Nanyuki.

The Al-Qaeda-linked group has in the past carried out bloody sieges against civilians in Kenya, such as the upmarket Westgate Mall in 2013 and Garissa University in 2015.

The uptick in attacks comes almost a year since the January 15 siege on an upscale Nairobi hotel which left 21 people dead.

In recent statements, the Shabaab has referred to an increase in US military airstrikes under President Donald Trump, accusing Washington of killing innocent civilians.

AFRICOM said in April it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

AFP

Four Killed In Car Bombing Near Somalia Parliament

People start cleaning debris at the site where a car bomb exploded near the Somali parliament in Mogadishu, Somalia, on January 8, 2020.  Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

At least four people were killed, including a senior government official, when a car bomb exploded close to a checkpoint near Somalia’s parliament in the capital Mogadishu on Wednesday, police said.

A plume of thick black smoke was seen over the city and witnesses said a number of vehicles were on fire.

Islamist group Al-Shabaab claimed the attack, after a rise in activity in recent days by the Al-Qaeda linked group which has seen it inflict mass casualties in Somalia and attack a US military base in Kenya.

“Explosives were packed in a vehicle which the security forces think was trying to pass through the checkpoint, but because he could not do that, the suicide bomber detonated it,” said police officer Adan Abdullahi.

“Initial reports we have received indicate four people were killed and more than 10 others were wounded in the blast.”

Bile Ismail, the manager of finances at the ministry for women and human rights, was among those killed, relatives and colleagues told AFP.

“We have indeed lost a brother and good friend in the blast this morning,” Abdiqani Omar, the ministry’s former director general, told AFP.

“He was sitting in the car waiting in line at the checkpoint when the blast occurred and his body (was) badly burned inside the car,” he added.

 ‘There was chaos’ 

Abdirahman Mohamed, who was at a nearby grocery store when the blast occurred, said he saw several corpses.

“I saw the dead bodies of several people, some of them killed by shrapnel inside their vehicles. There was chaos… and ambulances reached the scene soon after the blast,” he said.

Shamso Ali, another witness, described “smoke and chaos along the road, the blast was very heavy”.

“Thanks to God I was a distance away but I saw the smoke and several vehicles caught on fire,” he said.

Mogadishu is regularly hit by attacks by the Shabaab, which has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.

The powerful blast comes after the Shabaab claimed a car bombing in Mogadishu on December 28 that killed 81 people.

That attack, which hit a busy checkpoint in the southwest of the city, was Somalia’s deadliest assault in two years. Scores were wounded.

The Shabaab has also managed to expand its network in the region, especially in Kenya which has suffered several devastating attacks in retaliation for sending troops into Somalia in 2011.

On Sunday, three US citizens died and several aircraft and military vehicles were destroyed when the Shabaab stormed a military base in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region.

Also Sunday, just hours after the attack, police arrested three men who tried to force their way into a British military training camp in the central Kenyan town of Nanyuki.

The Al-Qaeda-linked group has in the past carried out bloody sieges against civilians in Kenya, such as the upmarket Westgate Mall in 2013 and Garissa University in 2015.

The uptick in attacks comes almost a year since the January 15 siege on an upscale Nairobi hotel which left 21 people dead.

In recent statements, the Shabaab has referred to an increase in US military air strikes under President Donald Trump, accusing Washington of killing innocent civilians.

AFRICOM said in April it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

AFP

Somali Jihadists Kill Three Americans In Attack On Kenyan Military Base

 

Attackers breached heavy security at Camp Simba at dawn but were pushed back and four jihadists killed, said army spokesman Colonel Paul Njuguna.

The American military, however, said three US citizens died in the attack including a service member and two civilian defence contractors.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” General Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command (Africom), said in a statement.

Two other US Department of Defence personnel were wounded, the statement added, without giving further details.

Al-Shabaab has launched regular cross-border raids since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union force protecting the internationally-backed government – which the jihadists have been trying to overthrow for more than a decade.

The Lamu region, which includes popular tourist beach destination Lamu Island, lies close to the Somali frontier and has suffered frequent attacks, often carried out with roadside bombs.

Njuguna said “an attempt was made to breach security at Manda Air Strip” at 5:30 am but it was repulsed.

“Four terrorists’ bodies have so far been found. The airstrip is safe,” he said, adding that a fire had broken out but had since been dealt with.

Kenya’s Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai said officers were “on high alert” after the attack.

Al-Shabaab ‘Lying’

An internal police report seen by AFP said two Cessna aircraft, two American helicopters and “multiple American vehicles” were destroyed at the airstrip.

Local government official Irungu Macharia said five people had been arrested near the camp and were being interrogated.

Shabaab claimed to have killed 17 Americans and nine Kenyan soldiers after the attack.

The nearby civilian airport at Manda Bay, which brings tourists visiting Lamu Island — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — was closed for several hours after the incident, according to the civil aviation authority.

Al-Shabaab said in a statement it had “successfully stormed the heavily fortified military base and have now taken effective control of part of the base”.

AFRICOM accused Al-Shabaab of lying in order to create false headlines.

Shabaab countered with a second statement, saying it had been a 10-hour firefight and mocking the US “inability to fend off an attack by just a handful of steadfast Muslim men”.

The group referred to an uptick in US military airstrikes under President Donald Trump, accusing the US of “strafing villages from above and indiscriminately bombarding innocent women and children.”

AFRICOM said in April it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

US Military Network

The Somali jihadists have staged several large-scale attacks inside Kenya in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia as well as to target foreign interests.

The group has been fighting to overthrow an internationally-backed government in Mogadishu since 2006, staging regular attacks on government buildings, hotels, security checkpoints and military bases in the country

Despite years of costly efforts to fight Al-Shabaab, the group on December 28 managed to detonate a vehicle packed with explosives in Mogadishu, killing 81 people.

The spate of attacks highlights the group’s resilience and capacity to inflict mass casualties at home and in the region, despite losing control of major urban areas in Somalia.

In a November report, a UN panel of experts on Somalia noted an “unprecedented number” of homemade bombs and other attacks across the Kenya-Somalia border in June and July last year.

On Thursday, at least three people were killed when suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen ambushed a bus travelling in the area.

According to the Institute for Security Studies, the United States has 34 known military bases in Africa, from where it conducts “drone operations, training, military exercises, direct action and humanitarian activities”.

US military Says Three Killed In Kenya Jihadist Attack

 

A jihadist attack on a military base in Kenya killed three people Sunday, including a US service member and two civilian defense contractors, the American military said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of our teammates who lost their lives today,” General Stephen Townsend, the head of US Africa Command (Africom), said after jihadists from Somalia’s Al-Shabaab group stormed a base in the Lamu region.

Two other Department of Defense personnel were wounded in the attack on Camp Simba, Africom added in a statement which gave no details on the identity of those killed.

Somali Jihadists Attack Military Base In Kenya

 

 

Jihadists from Somalia’s Al-Shabaab group on Sunday stormed a military base used by US forces in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region, destroying several aircraft and military vehicles, according to Kenyan police and army officials.

Attackers breached heavy security at Camp Simba at dawn but were repelled and four jihadists were killed, said army spokesman Colonel Paul Njuguna.

Al-Shabaab has launched regular cross-border raids since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union force protecting the internationally-backed government — which the jihadists have been trying to overthrow for more than a decade.

The Lamu region, which includes popular tourist beach destination Lamu Island, lies close to the Somali frontier and has suffered frequent attacks, often carried out with roadside bombs.

Njuguna said “an attempt was made to breach security at Manda Air Strip” at 5:30am but it was repulsed.

“Four terrorists’ bodies have so far been found. The airstrip is safe,” he said, adding that a fire had broken out but had since been dealt with.

Kenya’s Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai said officers were “on high alert” after the attack.

Al-Shabaab ‘lying’

An internal police report seen by AFP said two Cessna aircraft, two American helicopters and “multiple American vehicles” were destroyed at the airstrip.

Local government official Irungu Macharia said five people had been arrested near the camp and were being interrogated.

Neither Kenya nor the US have admitted casualties as yet, despite Shabaab claiming to have killed 17 Americans and nine Kenyan soldiers.

US military officials confirmed the attack and said US and Kenyan forces had repelled the Al-Shabaab fighters.

“Working alongside our Kenyan partners, the airfield is cleared and still in the process of being fully secured,” said the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) in a statement.

The nearby civilian airport at Manda Bay, which brings tourists visiting Lamu Island — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — was closed for several hours after the incident, according to the civil aviation authority.

Al-Shabaab said in a statement it had “successfully stormed the heavily fortified military base and have now taken effective control of part of the base”.

AFRICOM accused Al-Shabaab of lying in order to create false headlines.

Shabaab countered with a second statement, saying it had been a ten hour firefight and mocking the US “inability to fend off an attack by just a handful of steadfast Muslim men”.

The group referred to an uptick in US military airstrikes under President Donald Trump, accusing the US of “strafing villages from above and indiscriminately bombarding innocent women and children.”

AFRICOM said in April it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

US military network

The Somali jihadists have staged several large-scale attacks inside Kenya in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia as well as to target foreign interests.

The group has been fighting to overthrow an internationally-backed government in Mogadishu since 2006, staging regular attacks on government buildings, hotels, security checkpoints and military bases in the country

Despite years of costly efforts to fight Al-Shabaab, the group on December 28 managed to detonate a vehicle packed with explosives in Mogadishu, killing 81 people.

The spate of attacks highlights the group’s resilience and capacity to inflict mass casualties at home and in the region, despite losing control of major urban areas in Somalia.

In a November report, a UN panel of experts on Somalia noted an “unprecedented number” of homemade bombs and other attacks across the Kenya-Somalia border in June and July last year.

On Thursday, at least three people were killed when suspected Al-Shabaab gunmen ambushed a bus travelling in the area.

According to the Institute for Security Studies, the United States has 34 known military bases in Africa, from where it conducts “drone operations, training, military exercises, direct action and humanitarian activities”.

Al-Shabaab Militants Attack Military Base Used By US And Kenya Forces

 

Jihadists from Somalia’s Al-Shabaab group on Sunday attacked a military base used by US and Kenyan forces in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region, a government official said.

“There was an attack but they have been repulsed,” Lamu Commissioner Irungu Macharia told AFP.

He said the attack took place before dawn at the base known as Camp Simba, and that “a security operation is ongoing”, without saying if there had been casualties.

“We are not sure if there are still remnants within,” he said.

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Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying they had “successfully stormed the heavily fortified military base and have now taken effective control of part of the base.”

The group said there had been both Kenyan and American casualties; however this could not be immediately verified.

Al-Shabaab said the attack was part of its “Al-Quds (Jerusalem) shall never be Judaized” campaign — a term it first used during an attack on the upscale Dusit hotel complex in Nairobi in January last year that left 21 people dead.

The Somali jihadists have staged several large-scale attacks inside Kenya, in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia in 2011 to fight the group, as well as to target foreign interests.

Despite years of costly efforts to fight Al-Shabaab, the group on December 28 managed to detonate a vehicle packed with explosives in Mogadishu, killing 81 people.

The spate of attacks highlights the group’s resilience and capacity to inflict mass casualties at home and in the region, despite losing control of major urban areas in Somalia.

AFP

Al-Shabaab Militants Claim Bomb Attack In Mogadishu

The wreckage of a car that was destroyed during the car bomb that exploded in Mogadishu that killed more than 20 people is photographed in Mogadishu on December 28, 2019. A massive car bomb exploded in a busy area of the Somali capital Mogadishu on December 28, 2019, leaving more than 20 people dead.
Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

Al-Shabaab Islamist militants on Monday claimed responsibility for Saturday’s massive car bomb in the Somali capital Mogadishu that killed 81 people, including two Turkish citizens.

“…the mujahideen carried (out) an attack… targeting a convoy of Turkish mercenaries and apostate militia who were escorting them,” Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage said in an audio message.

Details later…

US Strikes Kill Four ‘Terrorists’ In Somalia

Somali people gather at a car bombing attack site in Mogadishu, on December 28, 2019. Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

 

The United States military said it killed four “terrorists” in airstrikes against the Al-Shabaab militant group in Somalia on Sunday, a day after the country’s deadliest attack in two years.

US Africa Command (AFRICOM) conducted three airstrikes in two locations in the conflict-hit east African nation on Sunday targeting Al-Shabaab militants, it said in a statement.

“These precision airstrikes targeted Al-Shabaab militants responsible for terrorist acts against innocent Somali citizens and coordinating with Al-Qaeda,” AFRICOM said.

“The US and the federal government of Somalia will continue to increase pressure on the terrorist organisation in order to deny them the ability to plot terrorist attacks.”

Sunday’s strikes killed two militants and destroyed two vehicles in Qunyo Barrow while a separate strike killed another two in Caliyoow Barrow, according to AFRICOM, which regularly carries out airstrikes in Somalia.

They followed a massive car bomb explosion in a busy area of Mogadishu on Saturday that left at least 79 people dead and scores injured.

At least 16 of those killed were students from the capital’s private Banadir University, who had been traveling on a bus when the car bomb detonated at a busy intersection southwest of the Somali capital.

Scores of wounded were carried on stretchers from the site, where the force of the explosion left the charred and twisted remains of vehicles.

Two Turkish nationals were also killed, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.

The attack has not been claimed, but Mogadishu is regularly hit by car bombings and attacks waged by the Al-Shabaab Islamist militants, who have fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.

– Guerrilla war –

The militant group emerged from the Islamic Courts Union, which once controlled central and southern Somalia, and is variously estimated to number between 5,000 and 9,000 men.

In 2010, the Shabaab declared their allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

The following year, its fighters fled positions they once held in the capital Mogadishu, and have since lost many strongholds.

But they retain control of large rural swathes of the country and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities, managing to inflict bloody death tolls in attacks at home and abroad.

“Since Al-Shabaab’s first external attack in 2010, the group has ruthlessly killed hundreds,” said US Army Major General William Gayler, AFRICOM’s director of operations.

“They have attacked and killed African partners, allies, and fellow Americans.”

Since 2015, there have been 13 attacks in Somalia with death tolls above 20. Eleven of these have been in Mogadishu, according to a tally of AFP figures.

All of them involved car bombs.

The deadliest attack in the country’s history was a truck bombing in October 2017 in Mogadishu which left 512 people dead and around 295 injured.

US strikes in Somalia surged after President Donald Trump declared the south of the country an “area of active hostilities.”

The rate of airstrikes has risen sharply this year, and in an April statement, AFRICOM said it had killed more than 800 people in 110 strikes in Somalia since April 2017.

AFRICOM, which has been accused by Amnesty International of killing several civilians in its airstrikes, said no civilians appeared to have been killed or wounded in its Sunday strike.

AFP

Update: Car Bomb Leaves At Least 76 Dead In Somali Capital Mogadishu

The wreckage of a car that was destroyed during the car bomb that exploded in Mogadishu that killed more than 20 people is photographed in Mogadishu on December 28, 2019. 
Abdirazak Hussein FARAH / AFP

 

A massive car bomb exploded in a busy area of Mogadishu on Saturday, leaving at least 76 people dead, many of them university students, officials said.

The blast occurred at a busy intersection southwest of the Somali capital where traffic is heavy because of a security checkpoint and a tax office.

The wounded were carried on stretchers from the site, where the force of the explosion left charred and twisted remains of vehicles.

Mogadishu is regularly hit by car bombings and attacks waged by Al-Shabaab Islamist militants allied to Al-Qaeda, but Saturday’s blast is the deadliest in about two years.

Many of those killed are believed to be university students whose bus was hit by the blast. Two Turkish nationals also died, police said.

“The number of casualties we have confirmed is 76 dead and 70 wounded, it could still be higher,” the director of the private Aamin Ambulance service, Abdukadir Abdirahman Haji, told AFP.

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Police officer Ibrahim Mohamed described the explosion as “devastating”.

“We have confirmed that two Turkish nationals, presumably road construction engineers are among the dead, we don’t have details about whether they were passing by the area or stayed in the area,” he said.

‘Dead Bodies Scattered’

Mogadishu’s mayor Omar Mohamud Mohamed told a press conference that the exact number of dead was not yet known, but that around 90 people were wounded.

“We will confirm the exact number of the number of the dead later but it is not going to be small, most of the dead were innocent university students and other civilians,” he said.

“This was a devastating incident because there were many people including students in buses who were passing by the area when the blast occurred,” said another witness, Muhibo Ahmed.

Sakariye Abdukadir, who was near the area when the car bomb detonated, said the blast “destroyed several of my car windows”.

“All I could see was scattered dead bodies… amid the blast and some of them burned beyond recognition.”

No group has yet claimed the attack.

Mogadishu is regularly hit by attacks by Al-Shabaab, which has fought for more than a decade to topple the Somali government.

The militant group emerged from the Islamic Courts Union that once controlled central and southern Somalia and is variously estimated to number between 5,000 and 9,000 men.

In 2010, the Shabaab declared its allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

In 2011, its fighters fled positions they once held in the capital Mogadishu, and have since lost many strongholds.

But they retain control of large rural swathes of the country and continue to wage a guerrilla war against the authorities

Two weeks ago, five people were killed when Shabaab militants attacked a Mogadishu hotel popular with politicians, army officers and diplomats in an hours-long siege.

Since 2015, there have been 13 attacks in Somalia with 20 or more killed, 11 of which have been in Mogadishu, according to a tally of AFP figures.

All of them involved car bombs.

The deadliest attack in the country’s history was a truck bombing in October 2017 in Mogadishu which left 512 people dead and around 295 injured.

AFP

Female Bomber Kills Somali Sports Chiefs

 

 

A young woman strapped with explosives blew herself up Wednesday during an address by Somalia’s prime minister in Mogadishu, killing four people, including the country’s Olympic and football bosses.

She detonated her suicide belt as Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali was on a podium addressing 200 people gathered to mark the first anniversary of the Somalia’s satellite TV network, an AFP reporter who witnessed the incident said.

Somali Olympic Committee president Aden Yabarow Wiish and Somali Football Federation chief Said Mohamed Nur were killed in the blast.

The prime minister, and seven other ministers standing beside him when the young woman set off her explosives, were unharmed.

“There are four dead, including the president of the Olympic committee and the president of the football federation,” Abdirahman Omar Osman, the Somali prime minister’s spokesman, told AFP.

Osman could not give the identity of the two other victims.

Seconds after the blast, chaos filled the venue as the dead and the wounded could be seen slumped on their chairs and lying on the floor while police escorted some of the injured to awaiting ambulances.

The Islamist Shebab rebels who have carried out similar attacks in the past stopped short of claiming direct responsibility.

“The action was carried out by people who support the Shebab,” Sheikh Ali Mohamed Rage, the group’s spokesman, told a pro-Shebab radio.

Somalia’s Information Minister Abdulkadir Hussein Mohamed however laid the blame squarely on the Al Qaeda-linked group.

“The cowardly attack was carried out by Shebab non-believers,” Mohamed told Radio Mogadishu. “The attack is contrary to the teaching of Islam.”

Somalia’s Chinese-built national theatre was re-opened last month by President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and the prime minister for the first time in 20 years.

The president of the world’s governing body, Sepp Blatter, expressed shock at the death of the two Somali sports chiefs.

“I knew both men personally and can only say good things about their endless efforts to promote sport and football in their country. They will be sorely missed,” the FIFA president said.

The pair had last week inspected the reconstruction of the national stadium in Mogadishu, a city which had slowly been coming back to life since Somali and African Union forces secured most of it late last year.

“When this construction completes and the security has fully been tightened we will be able to host international matches here in Mogadishu,” Nur had said in a statement.

Somalia’s deputy sports minister had said people were eager to “benefit from the peaceful atmosphere” in Mogadishu and his minister had praised all those who had been killed or wounded in recent years while promoting Somali sports.

The stadium was previously used by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels as a training centre, turning the pitch into a firing range to test homemade armour piercing bullets.

But last year, Western-backed African Union troops seized the stadium and used it as a forward base for assaults on rebel holdouts before turning it over to the government for restoration as a sports venue.

Despite the lull in street fighting, Mogadishu has been plagued by a series of suicide and grenade attacks since the Shebab rebels abandoned fixed bases in August and reverted to guerrilla tactics.

A suicide bomber last month killed at least five people in an attack at the heavily guarded presidential palace, which the hardline Shebab militia claimed.

The Shebab carried out their deadliest suicide attack in October 2011 when a bomber rammed an explosives-laded vehicle into a government compound, killing at least 82 people.

In regions under their control, the extremist militia have banned football, watching movies, Western music and dressing, with offenders often flogged or publicly executed.

Ethiopia and Kenya have deployed troops to southern regions of the war-torn nation to crush the Shebab, who have waged bloody battles to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government.

Somalia has lacked an effective central government, allowing armed groups, pirates and extremists rebels to thrive and establish control in vast regions.

AFP

Five Killed In Somalia After Jihadists Attack Hotel

Al-Shabaab — allied to Al-Qaeda — was forced out of the Somali capital in 2011 but still controls parts of the countryside and continues to launch attacks in Mogadishu.

 

Five people including three civilians were killed when jihadist militants stormed a hotel in Somalia’s capital, police said Wednesday, adding that all five attackers had also died after an hours-long siege.

The attack on Tuesday evening, claimed by the Islamist group al-Shabaab, took place at a hotel in Mogadishu popular with politicians, army officers and diplomats.

“Our brave security forces ended the terror attack on SYL hotel rescuing more than 80 people” including government officials and hotel guests, police said in a statement.

“The number of the dead we have confirmed is five, among them two members of the security forces and three civilians. Nine other civilians and two soldiers were also wounded slightly”.

Several witnesses told AFP that the assailants were dressed in police uniform, which allowed them to approach the hotel without arousing suspicion.

They then opened fire and threw grenades, triggering an armed response from security forces guarding checkpoints leading to the nearby presidential palace.

After several hours of siege, police killed the two last attackers holed up inside the hotel, which has suffered three previous deadly attacks, all claimed by al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab posted a statement online saying it had carried out an operation “which happened as planned”, but gave no further details.

The police statement said the attack was carried out “by five people who have been sent by the terrorists to threaten the Somali public and all of them were killed”.

No car bomb

Al-Shabaab — allied to Al-Qaeda — was forced out of the Somali capital in 2011 but still controls parts of the countryside and continues to launch attacks in Mogadishu.

The group often strikes the most prominent hotels and restaurants, and has also staged attacks in neighbouring Kenya.

The SYL hotel is close to the main entrance of the Villa Somalia government complex, a high-security area that includes the presidential palace, the prime minister’s office and ministry buildings.

Unusually for an al-Shabaab attack, the jihadists did not use a car bomb to try and blast through the hotel’s exterior wall, said police officer Suleyman Adan.

“It appears that the attackers have changed their tactics. It was easy for them to disguise themselves and enter the building,” he added,

Adan said that a large number of hotel guests had been quickly evacuated by police through the hotel’s service doors and emergency exits.

Witnesses described scenes of panic and confusion as the attack began.

“I was close to the hotel when the gunfire broke out and we managed to turn our vehicle swiftly,” said Abdukadir Ahmed.

“The security forces around the palace checkpoints were firing heavy machine-guns but we don’t exactly know who was fighting who.”

Another witness, Ali Moalim Nur, told AFP that one of his friends who escaped the hotel had suffered a fracture after jumping off a wall.

In January 2015, five people were killed when a suicide car bomber rammed the gates of the same hotel on the eve of a visit by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In February 2016, twin blasts set off close to the SYL hotel and the neighbouring Peace Garden killed 14 people.

Then in August of the same year, a suicide car bomb attack on the hotel killed 15 people.

 

AFP